On the morning recruits graduate as a part of Washington’s 792nd Basic Law Enforcement Academy class in December, a bell will ring out across the Spokane campus from a new memorial in honor of law enforcement officers across the state who have died in the line of duty.
The sound will “signify we will take this watch from here,” said Kalispel Tribal Public Safety Department recruit Matt Costello, who spoke at the dedication of the memorial. The memorial is part of a class project that Costello helped organize.
The bell hangs from a metal frame that reads “When the time comes, send me,” over two granite blocks inscribed with close to 300 names of fallen law enforcement officers.
Among those names is Kent police Officer Diego Moreno, who died last July after he was struck by a fellow officer while deploying spike strips during a high-speed chase.
“He was, literally, everybody’s best friend,” said Kent police Officer Will Davis, an instructor at the Washington State Criminal Justice Center in Burien, who drove to Spokane for the memorial dedication.
Moreno worked closely with Davis, including as beat partners. The 35-year-old police officer had worked in the Kent department for about eight years and had two children with his wife, Shelly.
Moreno was the type of person to tell people he was always there for them and actually follow up on his promise. Many Kent officers wear metal wristbands inscribed with Moreno’s name, and Davis said he’s rarely taken his off.
Davis remembered how Moreno grew out his hair for long periods of time and stuffed it under his hat until it was 8 or 10 inches long. He found out after Moreno died that he donated his hair for wigs for cancer patients.
“Coming out here was really, really important,” said Davis, who learned about the memorial project while in Spokane earlier this year. “We have done so much to honor his memory, and I don’t think it will ever be enough.”
The memorial, which overlooks the Spokane River just northeast of Upriver Dam, was an effort to bring a fallen officer monument like the one at the academy in Burien to Spokane, Costello said. The design came together through conversations between donors and the 33 recruits in the class.
Local businesses, including Creation Material Handling, Ferraro Concrete, Pounder’s Jewelry, Genesis Granite and Briggs Machine & Fabrication, donated time and materials to the memorial. The Spokane Regional Law Enforcement Museum and Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Project were also involved.
“It’s an honor for our class to have put this together and leave a permanent tradition,” Costello said.
Spokane police Capt. Tom Hendren said law enforcement officers have something to learn from each person listed on the memorial. Hendren said the bell on the memorial will be rung before each class graduation.
“This memorial brings a new tradition,” he said.
Russ Hicks, assistant commander at the Burien campus, said the memorial is one of the best class projects he’s seen. He said the dedication is timely given the 10th anniversary next week of the killing of four uniformed Lakewood police officers in a coffee shop.
Hicks said he and Sgt. Mark Renninger were patrol partners for a decade while working as Tukwila police officers. Officers Tina Griswold and Ronald Owens were shot before they had a chance to fire, and Officer Greg Richards shot the gunman before he was killed.
“Someday, indeed, any of you may be called upon to make that ultimate sacrifice,” Hicks said during a speech at the memorial dedication. “We shall honor the fallen by the service we give our communities.”
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